It's one of the Bundesliga's most familiar sights: Robert Lewandowski wheeling away in celebration after netting yet another goal for Bayern Munich.

The Poland captain recently grabbed his 100th Bundesliga goal for the record champions, firing in a hat-trick in the 6-0 demolition of Hamburg. Three weeks later, lightning struck twice: another rampant 6-0 victory for Bayern and another Lewandowski treble – except this time the victims were his former club Borussia Dortmund, a side pushing for UEFA Champions League qualification.                                                                                                  

With a total of 177 Bundesliga goals, Lewandowski is just 15 short of Claudio Pizarro's all-time record of 192 for a foreign goalscorer. As the Bayern No.9 closes in on a third top scorer's cannon – a feat previously managed by just three players – bundesliga.com takes a closer look at exactly what makes him the greatest striker in world football.

Watch: What makes Lewy so special?

1) Fox in the Box

One of Lewandowski's greatest strengths is his uncanny ability to find himself in the right place at the right time. Of his 177 Bundesliga goals, no fewer than 166 have been scored from inside the penalty area, including 25 of his 26 strikes in the current campaign. Talk about predatory instincts.

When Bayern are on the attack, the Polish marksman's exceptional positioning and spatial awareness mean that he is often perfectly placed to sweep the ball home, even if it takes an unexpected deflection off an opposition player.

His second and third goals against Dortmund are a perfect example. For the second, he is hovering in the six yard box and shrugs past Manuel Akanji to stab in the loose ball after it ricochets off Franck Ribery's chest – while for the third, he ghosts in behind Sokratis to turn in Joshua Kimmich's cross, even if Roman Bürki gets a hand to it. These kinds of goals have been Lewandowski's meat and drink throughout his Bundesliga career.

Watch: Lewandowski's hat-trick against Dortmund!

2) Pace and perfect timing

Like all top strikers, Lewandowski knows the vital importance of preserving his energy for those key moments in front of goal. Only centre-backs Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and the 34-year-old Arjen Robben cover less ground for Bayern than the Pole – who averages around 6.2 miles a game – but that's because he prioritises sprinting over endurance. Once he gets going, he can be incredibly tough to catch: his top speed of 21 miles per hour this season has only been exceeded by one of his teammates, flying French winger Kingsley Coman.

One of the many weapons in Bayern's attacking arsenal is the long ball over the top. Rather than standing on the last defender, though, Lewandowski will burst from deep and try to time his run to avoid the offside trap. From the brace he scored at home to Hannover in his early months with Bayern to the opening goal against Dortmund last week, it has long been a feature of his game to get in behind opposition defences. And it goes without saying that his finishing in one-on-one situations is second to none.

3) Mr. Flexible

Lewandowski is comfortable shooting with either foot and also has great aerial presence. While he has scored 117 of his Bundesliga goals with his preferred right foot, he has still managed to put away 35 with his left and nod in no fewer than 23 headers.  

The 29-year-old will occasionally have a go from distance as well. His second Bundesliga goal for Bayern was a brilliant half-volley against Paderborn from just outside the area, while he drove in from 25 yards for number two of his historic five-goal salvo against Wolfsburg in September 2015.

Watch: Nine minutes, five goals, one Lewandowski!

While many of his goals can appear straightforward, Lewandowski has also been known to produce moments of magic, such as his spectacular volley to make it five against the Wolves. And what about the drag back and emphatic finish on his way to an incredible four-goal haul against Real Madrid with Dortmund? The flick over the head for the sensational volleyed opener against Eintracht Frankfurt in April 2015? Or his cheeky backheeled efforts this season against Werder Bremen and Dortmund?

The sheer range of goals that he is capable of scoring would already make the Bayern frontman stand out from the crowd, but his consistency elevates him to world-class status.

4) Set-piece supremo

Lewandowski's calm under pressure is further demonstrated by his near-flawless penalty record. Throughout his whole career, the Pole has only missed four spot-kicks – one for Poland, one for Dortmund and two for Bayern – while he has successfully put away the other 37, giving him an outstanding conversion rate of 90 per cent. Crucially, in 31 of the 34 games in which he has scored from the spot, his side have gone on to claim victory.

The former BVB man has also upped his game from set pieces. Having scored just a single direct free-kick in four seasons with Dortmund – in a 4-0 win at Hertha Berlin in May 2014 – he has added another four in Bayern colours since December 2016, in wins over Mainz, Atletico Madrid, Dortmund and Chemnitzer FC.

Four days after scoring his first direct free-kick for Bayern against Mainz, Lewandowski (1st l.)handed the Bavarians all three points against Atletico Madrid with this stunner at the Allianz Arena © imago / Bernd Müller

As his career has progressed, Lewandowski has become increasingly fixated with finding the back of the net. Having worked with some of the best coaches in the business – including Jürgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and current boss Jupp Heynckes – the Pole has made huge strides in terms of tactical intelligence. It should perhaps come as no surprise that his chance conversion rate has improved this season – he scores with every four shots on goal – while his determination to score at every opportunity has seen him provide just a solitary assist, the 55th of his Bundesliga career.  

5) A lean, mean, goalscoring machine

One of Lewandowski's early coaches in Poland expressed concern about his delicate frame and stick-thin legs, which shows just how far he has come in terms of his physique. During his Dortmund days he was given the nickname 'The Body', having spent countless hours in the gym to improve his strength and gain an advantage out on the pitch. His wife Anna is also a renowned sports nutritionist who has provided invaluable advice about dieting and exercise.

Lewandowski's dedication to his fitness and wellbeing means that he has never suffered a serious injury, and has only missed 13 Bundesliga matches in almost eight seasons. As well as being a major attribute of his game, the Bayern man's peak physical condition has enabled him to make more appearances this season than any of his teammates – 39 – while only goalkeeper Sven Ulreich has played more minutes in all competitions.

He also boasts impressive mental strength. Having lost his father Krzysztof at the age of 16, Lewandowski was released by hometown club Legia Warsaw a year later, and it was against this backdrop of adversity that he climbed the ranks to become one of Europe's most sought-after strikers. He has also emerged as Poland's talisman since being made captain by Adam Nawalka – not to mention the country's all-time top scorer – and his European-record 16 goals in qualifying played a huge part in helping the Eagles reach the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

In a nutshell, Lewandowski is the complete striker. He can combine with his attacking midfielders, hold up play, take on defenders, latch onto balls over the top, play on the ground or in the air – and score goals of all shapes and sizes, with both feet and his head. A natural poacher with a flair for improvisation, he is surely one of the best the Bundesliga – and the world – has ever seen.

Andy Smith

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